JMS renovations will yield more classroom space

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The former Jemison Middle School building, located next to Jemison High, is expected to be completely renovated and ready to use by August.

Maintenance crews will breathe new life into the old Jemison Middle School building this summer with new floors, new doors, wall repairs and fresh coats of paint.

After sitting vacant for four years, the building is undergoing interior renovations in order to be functional again and provide Jemison High with much-needed classroom space.

On May 21, the Chilton County Board of Education agreed to commit $160,000 to the project.

“The renovations will get us approximately 10 classrooms,” Superintendent Dave Hayden said. “We will use some for storage for a while because we don’t need 10. It will give us office space.”

Hayden said JHS Principal Allen Wilson had expressed concerns recently about overcrowding at the high school with a large eighth grade class coming up.

Hayden said funding for the project would be capital improvement money and possibly local funds for paint and other less expensive materials.

“For what we’re getting, it’s a pretty good deal,” Hayden said.

Wayne Howell, maintenance supervisor of Chilton County Schools, and his department will perform the renovations over the summer and expect to be finished by the start of the 2013–2014 school year in August.

JHS Assistant Principal Diane Calloway said the building, which is located on the JHS campus, adjoins another building currently being used for classrooms.

After middle school grades 5–7 were transferred to the new JMS facility near Jemison Elementary four years ago, a partition was installed in the former JMS building’s hallway to block access to it while it was closed.

Calloway said the partition would be removed to reconnect the two buildings.

A significant increase in the number of students to attend JHS next year prompted the JHS faculty to take action and approach the board about a solution for anticipated overcrowding.

“I just didn’t know what we were going to do,” Calloway said. “Every room we have is full.”

According to Calloway, about 190 students will comprise the eighth grade at JHS next year.

JHS currently has about 776 students, 107 of which are graduating seniors.

With a gain of about 100 students, the school could have more than 850 students in the fall.

“We did gain a couple of extra teaching units,” Calloway said. “We had to have some room.”

The bathrooms won’t require work since they were renovated before the building closed four years ago.

Also, the building already has a heating and cooling system.

Calloway said no exterior or structural repairs were necessary because the building is “in good shape.”

All eighth grade classes will be moved into the renovated building, and plans include adding an eighth grade computer lab and a separate classroom and shop at one end of the building for the agriculture department.

Other tasks to be done are making sure the building and fire alarms are up to code, connecting the bell system, installing security cameras, replacing dry-erase or chalkboards and painting the interior walls.

“We appreciate the board going forward with it,” Calloway said of the project. “This is just going to help this community so much. It’s much-needed.”